Friday 8 June 2007

A rose by any other name

Mmm -- presumably the novel The Name of The Rose gets its title from this quotation (which is from Romeo and Juliet, for those of you who didn't do it for 'O' level. (I went to a Catholic school and had a delightfully fusty English teacher, and still remember with pleasure his protestations that this was a sweetly romantic play without a trace of smut. I'd look at lines such as 'The bawdy hand of the dial/Is now upon the very prick of noon' and think, "Well, I don't know why it sounds rude," (yup, I was a very late developer) "but it definitely does."))

Anyway, my point is that I've been meaning to put a link here to a very nicely written article in the Guardian recently, which says pretty much everything I want to say about changing one's surname and giving surnames to children, without ever getting as horribly strident as I do when I have the discussion. I only know one other woman in the world who has, as I have, given her child her own surname, and I find that odd. When I put the list of new members into the Cambridge NCT (National Childbirth Trust) newsletter, I always look to see how many couples have different names. Considering that this is an 'intellectual' town, terribly middle class, and full of bolshy women (unless it just happens that those are the ones I know), it's usually amazingly few. Most disappointing. Actually, the really daft thing seems to me to be when the woman takes on the man's surname as well as her own. So they still have different names, the kid still gets his name, and she's lumbered with a whole pile. Seems ker-azy to me. If you're going to have both, why doesn't the chap have both too? But there, I'm starting to rant, and the whole point of this was to avoid that.

A said he was surprised at the whole thing too, but he was proud to be a torch-bearer. What a sweetheart. I never quite know whether the other chaps feel it's a challenge to their masculinity if a woman doesn't want to subsume a part of her identity in him (yes, inflammatory language, I know, I know, but honestly, your name is your identity and I don't see how you could dispute that), or if it's some kind of weird girl thing that the women want to, and as incomprehensible to me as a whole load of other weird girl things. I think at the root of this whole feminism thing for me is the fact that I'm really not more than 50% feminine...

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